City Walk – Golf Course Road, Gurgaon
Nuances of disparity.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
High-rises so tall that sometimes clouds waft around the upper floor windows. In malls, you hear a babble of foreign accents. Sleek coaches of the Rapid Metro show up frequently on the elevated tracks.
Gurgaon’s Golf Course Road in the Greater Delhi Region feels like a hyperlocal Singapore. That only tells half the story. As you walk along the road, the unfolding sights lead to a deeper appreciation of the Millennium City’s nuances.
In the evening, a part of the busy road is taken over by scores of female cyclists. Many of the women work as household helps in the area’s apartments and are now returning home, so says one of them on being stopped for a brief interview. The next cyclist to slow down is too shy to speak and quickly pedals away pleading that her kids are waiting at home. Another woman says she works as security staff at a shopping mall. Most of the women this reporter spoke with are natives of other states and live in rented accommodations with their families in nearby villages.
Indeed, Gurgaon is an assortment of many villages. Those citizens who have been here long enough will certainly have living memories of the time when the city was much smaller, and was marooned from all sides by villages and farmland. Today, those villages and fields are a metropolis-in-progress inhabited by new Gurgaonites belonging to disparate levels of material well-being. You may easily register this wide band of diversity in the evening hours along Golf Course Road.
To be sure, the well-heeled office crowd is no longer as dense as it was in the pre-pandemic era, possibly because many professionals might be working remotely or have staggered work shifts at their workplaces. The stream of the women cyclists, too, is no longer as thick as it was in the BC (before Covid) era. Maybe because a number of part-time housekeepers might have lost their jobs due to the pandemic-related reasons. But the city’s construction projects appear to be going unhindered, for a good number of labourers are seen walking back home in the dusk hour – attired in yellow helmets and red jackets, their work tools in one hand and lunch box in another.
At one point this evening, outside a mall, a woman emerges in a magenta dressing gown. She is holding three to four shopping bags. A long white car stops in front of her. A uniformed chauffeur gets out, walks towards the woman, takes her bags, and opens a back seat door for her. Moments later, a woman in a sari and shawl goes past on a bicycle.
Golf Course ecology